The second of the Scouts on Stamps "Classics" is the Czechoslovak Scout Official Mail Delivery Service of 1918, or Czech Scout Post. This issue consists of two stamps, a postal card, and later overprints of the stamps.
Except for stamps, covers, telegrams, and postal cards in collector's hands and in the Czech Postal Museum in Prague, few physical remnants of the operation of the Czech Scout Post have survived. Following the establishment of the First Czech Republic in late 1918, an archive for the provisional National Council Government of October-December 1918 was established. The original copy of the charter of the Scout Post, the log books of its operation, and the defaced-by-filing stamp dies were placed in the archive.
Some of the handstamps, including the circular POSTA SKAUTU [Scout Post] and the two-line "Dopis od skauta...prevzal..." [Delivered by Scout...received by...] and the circular NV and elliptical "National Council in Prague" of the provisional government, remained in private hands during the 1920s and were used in the enhancement/manufacture of additional covers, fake stamps, telegrams, and postal cards of the Scout Post to meet increasing collector demands.
By the early 1930s, it is believed that all original handstamps had been turned over to the archive, which was then located in the Prague City Hall. The City Hall and the archive survived the ravages of World War II. However, during the "Prague Spring Revolt" against the Soviets, the building was hit by shell fire, igniting the inside. The City Hall was completely gutted by fire because the firefighters could not respond due to the fighting in the streets between the Czech Freedom Fighters and the Soviet military. The entire National Council archive, including all records and devices of the Scout Post, was destroyed. Today, when "new" pieces of the Scout Post appear, it is usually following either the death of one of the few surviving Sea Scouts, who are today in their nineties, or the breakup of a private collection.
There is a reasonably large number of entires (covers, telegrams, and postal cards) of the Scout Post in collectors' hands, especially when compared to the much smaller number of covers with the Mafeking siege "blueprint" stamps. These entires have many different combinations of the various handstamps of the Scout Post, provisional government, and Scout Association. Until recently, all these entires were considered to be pretty much alike in terms of their collectability and were priced comparably one to another. All of this changed in March 1991, when Ing. Pavel Pittermann, the leading expert on Czech postal history and an FIP-accredited judge, published the results of his several years of research into the genuineness of entires of the Scout Post in ZPRAVODAJ, the journal of the Union of Czech Philatelists (SVAS). He established a classification scheme with four categories for all Scout Post entires.
Pittermann classification scheme
1. Genuine and authentic
2. Genuine but not necessarily authentic
Almost overnight, his classification scheme was adopted by the expert committees of the SVAS, SCP, APS/ASDA, et al., and the Czech, US and international judging communities. Through a ripple-down effect, auction houses, dealers, and collectors are now placing premiums on Category 1 entires which are by far the fewest in number, while the prices for Category 2 and 3 material have fallen sharply.
Today, Scout collectors contemplating the purchase of Scout Post entires should be fully knowledgeable of the Pittermann classification scheme and should insist on the proper classification of all entires in order to protect their investments. Buying entires with recent expert committee certificates which state the Pittermann categories and buying entires on extension for expertization are the safest routes. Likewise, exhibitors should identify the Pittermann categories of all Scout Post entires they show, and they should be prepared to justify any of the category identifications if challenged by juries.